As a self-financing activity, LifeStraw® Carbon For Water is measured based on its
ability to reduce or avoid greenhouse gas emissions. Emission reductions result in carbon
credits, each created when the equivalent of one metric ton of carbon dioxide is prevented
from entering the atmosphere. Credits have a monetary value depending on the type and origin
of the emission reductions produced and current prices in the carbon market.
After the first six months, almost 1.4 million tons of carbon emission reductions were
realized. Annually, the activity is expected to reduce an estimated 2.7 million tons of
The LifeStraw® Carbon For Water activity provides a number of interesting opportunities
for operational research, sustainability research, economics or cost efficiency research, and
health impact research. Health impact research is already underway and Vestergaard Frandsen
is meeting with world class researchers to design and develop further studies to measure
LifeStraw® Carbon For Water is reducing the incidence of waterborne diseases. Preliminary
results show a statistically significant reduction in the odds of diarrhea, dysentery and
severe dehydration among under-fives whose households are exclusively using LifeStraw®
Family water filters.
LifeStraw® Carbon For Water can also reduce the incidence of respiratory illnesses.
Pollution from heating with biomass fuels such as wood increases susceptibility to pneumonia,
especially among children.
LifeStraw® Carbon For Water helps to empower local residents by giving them an easy way
to produce safe drinking water. It also employs thousands of Kenyans in its semi-annual
campaigns to distribute the water filters and train recipients on usage. And Vestergaard
Frandsen employs scores to work at 32 repair and replacement centers throughout the province
and as district coordinators and supervisors (on an ongoing basis). Forty-five coordinators
and more than 150 community volunteers are engaged full-time.
The major socio-economic contribution of the LifeStraw® Carbon For Water activity
is its ability to offer a sustainable, self-financed solution to problems that arise when
individuals and communities don’t have access to safe drinking water—namely
interruptions in education and income-bearing activities due to illness and the collection of
fuel for boiling water. This is a breakthrough, especially with regard to point-of-use water
Community members have been involved in the planning and their feedback is constantly
solicited. Also, to mitigate against the potential risk of under-use, Vestergaard Frandsen
conducts ongoing community education to remind residents about the importance of continually
using the water filters for optimal water
On a global level, LifeStraw® Carbon For Water can make a significant contribution to
global health by demonstrating that novel approaches to overcoming traditional financial
limitations can be sustained. Sustainable programs must be instituted to ensure that people
have ongoing access to vital public health interventions that can improve and often save
The current iteration of LifeStraw® Carbon For Water will sustain itself, eventually
recouping the US$30 million investment, and then generating profit, much of which will be
reinvested back into the activity over the next decade.
LifeStraw® Carbon For Water is a scalable model that can be extended or replicated in
Larger iterations of the concept, currently in the planning phases, will require
co-investment from partners. Vestergaard Frandsen is discussing expansion of the concept with
governments and private investors in different regions throughout the world.
LifeStraw® Carbon For Water serves as a blueprint for future initiatives to derive income
from both market-based emission reductions and results-based health outcomes – thus
providing dual income streams and greater activity stability.
This innovative financing model overcomes the challenge of sustaining public health programs
with traditional sources of finance, such as aid or grants from public sector or
non-governmental groups with limited resources. The financing mechanism also holds public and
private sector organizations to greater account, to ensure maximum impact. The activity links
profit intrinsically to performance—a relatively new concept in the aid and public